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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Jul 1 1998
Your All Public Affairs Item Column
Welcome to a special, all public affairs edition of Dog Bites. After much soul-searching, plus angry voice mail from wheezy-sounding old hippies complaining of our mistreatment of Jon Carroll in this column, we have decided to focus on some of the serious issues facing the Bay Area: transportation, crime, public spending, and lack of content in television news.

Bridge for the 21st Century
Oakland Mayor-elect Jerry Brown thinks the design for the Bay Bridge's new eastern span sucks. And he's not the only one. Just this week, we got a letter from Steve Sue, an architectural renderer in Oakland who says he was "distraught" by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's uninspired design. "I thought, gee, it's just not beautiful to me," he says.

So Sue has launched his own campaign to encourage the MTC to come up with a lovelier span. And Dog Bites, taking the e-mailed advice of a snarky '60s relic ("be part of the solution, not part of the problem") to heart, offers the following modest proposals:

Crime Watch
As part of our new program of community awareness, Dog Bites wandered over to the Hall of Justice and perused court files, reading up on some of San Francisco's lesser-known criminals. Who knew we'd find a poignant tale of shattered romance in one of the tattered manila file folders?

It seems a gentleman -- whose name we're omitting because, frankly, he's not the brightest felon on the block -- had a history of arrests for shoplifting. Time after time, our man stole from clothing stores, stuffing bluejeans or shirts into his backpack and walking out of the shop. And time after time he got caught, hauled before a judge, and released on probation.

But one day, our felon changed his pattern. Instead of stealing from his usual targets, he entered a San Francisco grocery store. Suspicious employees watched for more than 40 minutes as he wandered through the supermarket, carefully selecting specific items and slipping them into his backpack.

When the man tried to leave the store without paying, he was detained. Here, according to the resulting police report, is what they found in his backpack:

* Oxy 10 acne cream
* Mouthwash
* Hair gel
* Tea Lite candles
* Mentadent toothpaste
* Collagen lotion
* Scented potpourri
* Roasted cashews
* Gillette Sensor razors
* Salami
* Smoked oysters
Clearly, our man was smitten.

And somewhere, we fear, a woman still awaits her fresh-scrubbed, pomaded paramour, and a candlelit dinner of smoked oysters and salami.

Crime Watch II
Just as Dog Bites was leaving the Hall of Justice, we ran into a prosecutor we like and respect. He offered this view of how the criminal justice system could be improved:

"You know the wood-chipper scene in Fargo? Well, I think that's what we ought to do; we should just pull one of those things up to the back of this building."

When he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, District Attorney Terence Hallinan was a passionate supporter of the city ordinance that set up preferences for local businesses in the government contracting process. He has carried that principle into even the smallest corners of his public life.

In preparation for his hand-waving car crawl in the Gay Pride Parade, Hallinan asked one of the investigators in his office to buy some Mardi Gras beads to toss to the celebrants. The investigator, Ron Huberman, directed his attentions to the place where most such baubles originate: New Orleans.

Huberman obtained several brochures and was getting very excited about exotic bead possibilities -- un-til his boss told him he had better do his shopping in the city. Friday afternoon saw Huberman walking out of the Hall of Justice with an ice chest full of locally purchased, bland-looking -- but, thankfully, politically correct -- beads.

Film at 11
And finally, Dog Bites wanted to share with you, our readers, the most exciting press release we've ever received from KRON-TV:

As told to Laurel Wellman

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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